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How to Prevent a Sore Throat from Progressing to a Cold

Before I share a great little tip on how to stop a sore throat from progressing into a week-long cold, please know that periodically experiencing a cold or the flu can actually be helpful to your health. If you have no idea why this is, please view the following popular article that I wrote on this topic:

What Most Doctors Won't Tell You About Colds and Flus

You just won't get this information on why colds and flus can help you stay healthy over the long run from medical textbooks and mainstream media - please consider sharing it with family and friends.

Although experiencing a cold or the flu once in a while can help rid your body of your weakest cells, I'm willing to bet that there are times when you would really prefer to delay such a period of cleansing and malaise.

Here's how you can stand a good chance of preventing a cold from developing:

As soon as you experience that sore, tickly feeling in your throat that precedes a full-blown cold, gargle with warm salt water.

And when I say gargle, I mean really gargle; take in a mouthful of warm salt water, look up at the ceiling, and gargle aggressively. You may want to tap at your throat (the Adam's apple region) with your fingers while you gargle to encourage the warm salt water to trickle deeply into your throat.

Gargle like this several times with a glass of warm salt water, and repeat as often as possible throughout the day.

Warm salt water can remove viruses from the tonsils and adenoids that line the back of your throat region. Viruses that cause colds and flus typically get caught by your tonsils and adenoids before they spread through your body. Your tonsils and adenoids are important parts of your immune system because they are located near the entrance of your breathing passages, and they serve as a first line of defense against undesirable airborne microorganisms and substances.

This, by the way, is why it is best not to remove tonsils and adenoids from your throat region. Chronic swelling of tonsils and adenoids is best addressed by reducing sugar intake, adopting a minimally processed diet that is rich in fresh plant foods, and supporting immune system health by getting plenty of rest, exercise, and exposure to sunlight and fresh air.

Cold salt water may also help to remove viruses from your tonsils and adenoids, but warm salt water tends to be more effective. Warm water may help to melt the fatty coating that protects viruses that cause the cold and flu.

What if you gargle for all you're worth but still end up developing a full-blown cold?

Get lots of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take comfort in knowing that countless viruses are at work destroying your weakest cells. And don't forget to blow your nose as often as it runs; help your body get rid of what it wants to get rid of.


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Hi Dr Kim, read your article on salt gargling...We used to be told to do this, either by mom or any of our elders, when we were little. Now I know the reason. Thanks for sharing this item.

Dr. Kim has provided a lot of good sound advice here. However the comments below are really horrible and mostly incorrect. Isopropyl alcohol must never be taken internally and must be diluted to be used externally. Mouthwash contains ethanol. But also may contain other topical antiseptic ingredients. Also many contain fluoride. Not to be swallowed in large quantities. Good for teeth, not your liver. All alcohols repel water and can damage tissue. Why does your skin turn white and dry after using rubbing alcohol? Tissue breakdown and water removal. There are non alcohol based gargle for this purpose to use. Ask your dentist or pharmacist for what they recommend after mouth surgery. Alcohol will make a sore throat worse because it will strip away natural protection and damages weaker tissues. Probably safe for healthy tissue but unnecessary. Brushing teeth gums and tongue are better than mouthwash. For throat use salt water or ask your pharmacist for a safe, non alcohol alternative. Now to add to the silliness of the rest of these comments. garlic probably does work. It makes you stink and people keep their distance. That's my theory anyway. But seriously the sulfur compounds in onion and garlic are antiseptic in nature. Topically used anyway. Similar to many mint oils which are plants natural defense. Salt gargle should not burn if properly proportioned. Look up saline proportions used for nasal rinse.

This actually worked it is good my throat was hurting very bad even when I swallowed things I tried to look for other startagies but I couldn’t find anything better.So it was the last choice I had and I did it and I went to the morning I woke up I drank a warm cup of water and guess what it worked very well then when I drank something it didn’t hurt and food wasn’t getting stuck anywhere and I felt very comfortable after using your suggestion Thx Doc.Kim this advice was very good thx again

Hi! This method is accurate, however, you should not gargle with salt several times a day because it would dry out your throat, counteracting the effects of this method. 2-3 times a day maximum is perfect.
Dr. Grant

I have used this method since I was young (carried down from generations before) and it is indeed most effective. However, it has always been such a struggle for me to gargle with salt water because of the intensity of the salty taste.

A few years ago, I found an awesome substitute. Honestly, I don't know if this is good or bad for my health in the long run but it works exactly the same as gargling with salt. I now gargle with LISTERINE MOUTH WASH (room temperature)! It hurts like crazy when you first gargle but if you keep at it, you'll find that your sorethroat is gone the very next day (same as when I gargle with heavily salted warm water). I usually gargle one round, catch my breath, drink lots of water and then later on, gargle again just before I sleep so that the viruses have no chance to breed :P

Hope this substitute is not bad for health and hope you find it easier than gargling salt water!

I believe Listerine and mouthwash products have a link with oral cancer. However, this liklihood is quite unlikely if you are healthy and only using it to gargle when you have a sore throat. Interesting though - there's lots of info on the net...

check out

Perhaps gargling with warm peppermint oil could be effective also, or tea tree oil, as it is antibacterial and antiviral.

Sage and thyme are commonly used for sore throats. Perhaps gargling with a strong tea made from either or both of those herbs would be effective. Cinnamon is also very good for fighting off colds.

I have read in a few magazine articles that hot tea works similar to gargling salt water, even without the sage or thyme.

One article said that it washes the germs to the stomach.

Plain water might work, according to one study from Japan where people who gargled with plain water got 36% fewer colds. I am wondering if the water they used had chlorine dioxide in it, which many of our drinking water has in it, which we filter to get it out, because it tastes better without chlorine flavor.

I am using Clo-Sys, because it tastes like water, or should I say, "unfiltered" water.

It has chlorine dioxide instead of alcohol and is easy for me to use. I switched to it after I looked at a petri dish study where chlorine dioxide kills bacteria, viruses and fungi faster than chlorine.

A strong tea of sage and thyme is more commonly known as soup -_-

I'm sorry, you believe Listerine causes cancer? So basically you believe alcohol causes cancer? And your "proof" is Wikipedia? Wow. I don't know, but somehow I trust doctors more than Wikipedia.

Yes, alcohol causes cancer.

"Alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk for various types of cancer. A combined analysis of more than 200 studies assessing the link between alcohol and various types of cancer (i.e., a meta-analysis) sought to investigate this association in more detail. This meta-analysis found that alcohol most strongly increased the risks for cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, and larynx. Statistically significant increases in risk also existed for cancers of the stomach, colon, rectum, liver, female breast, and ovaries. Several mechanisms have been postulated through which alcohol may contribute to an increased risk of cancer."

My grandfather has been using listerine since he was a boy. He is 90 years old. No oral cancer. He even puts it in his hair...not sure why...

There are several kinds of alcohol. These studies have been done on various grain alcohols used for drinking, such as alcoholic beverages. Rubbing alcohol is distilled alcohol. And, it is a purer disenfectant! It is poisonous for internal consumption. Original Listerine says "Do Not Ingest" on the label! This is also why it is not advised for small children who cannot either undertand this concept, or who haven't yet learned the skill of gargeling. There are no studies linking original Listerine to cancer. In fact, there continue to be early science fair projects on how well Listerine kills germs. After all these years, the FDA would have pulled original Listerine if there were any true links between this kind of gargelled alcohol and cancer!

I also gargle with Listerine the minute I feel a sore throat coming on or if people are hacking around me. And shoot, seems like anything can lead to a disease or ailment (the discrepancy with mouthwash and oral cancer)... so give it a try!

I bought a throat spray with iodine, and when I feel my throat starts to tickle I use it. Although I burns quite a lot, probably more than listerin mouthwash, but I find it helps much more than anything else.

My personal experience is that Listerine provides an effective gargle used in addition to or in place of salt water. It tends to burn at first, but after 15-30 seconds the active ingredients kick in providing pain relief.

The menthol and methyl salicylate (a compound closely related to aspirin) are both analgesics that reduce pain. The thymol and eucalyptol are both antiseptic. These are common ingredients in other pain relieving products like Carmex lip balm (menthol and salicylic acid) and Vicks Vaporub (menthol and eucalpytol).

These ingredients originally (at least) have a natural source, being derived from the herbs suggested in other posts.
Menthol - mint
Eucalyptol - eucalytus
Thymol - thyme
Salicylic acid & salicylates - willow

So if any of these way of work. Is any one going for
years with out cold or flu?
I do a dry fast until the cold go's away. When
it go's away then the fist thing i eat is bread then wait 10
minute then drink liquids.

Right now i have been working in a Fruit and Vege shop and just the other day i started developing a cold/flu and my boss told me to eat a clove of peeled garlic. i see him doing this every month and he says that he hasn't had a cold in two years. i ate it, and just in time for my girlfriend this weekend (5 days after i started developing the sickness), it was gone. Eat a clove of garlic every month so your immune system is even more helpful.

mouth washes, especially the alcoholic or antiseptic type, i believe are no good for you. not coz of cancer, but because over cleanliness is what has lead to some of the worst epidemics in the modern world, such as mega viruses (over use/misuse of antibiotics is also a contributing factor).

but it is in this same way it prevents colds. by killing all the germs in your mouth and throat. ALL OF THEM!! ESPECIALLY THE GOOD ONES! and in the end weakens your immune system and leads to worse outcomes in the long run.

I also believe the use of such strong methods aren't good for weakened areas anyway. natural, milder antiseptic ingredients should be used as long as you're not allergic. i hate it when people say that it's not safe, allergies, etc! well, the processed man made stuff really isn't any better.

I have had a cold for eight days now. Firstly it started with a sore throat and I was finding it difficult to swallow. I gargled with hot salty water all day. The next day my throat was better but I felt so unwell. I ate a few raw cloves of garlic thinking it would definitely help. Through the week I had a runny nose, bad headaches and felt like a zombie.

I started to feel a little better after the fifth day but on the sixth day the phlegm turned from a clear colour to a thick green / yellow colour. The headaches returned and I thought I had sinusitis. After six days I started to inhale vicks and olbas oil in hot water which helped to clear my nose therefore my headache too. Seven days of suffering & hardly no sleep I have finally managed to get a good night sleep but this flu or what ever it is is lingering. Today is the eight day and I have had lots of green chili and about 5 cloves of raw garlic and I am still inhaling. I haven;t felt like this for a couple of years - absolutely horrible!!!!!

8 days..go see a doctor! Don't forget, if your sore throat is Streep and is not treated with antibiotics, your immune system will attack the cells of your heart valves as they look like Streep cells to your immune system.

All my colds last about 8 days and go through nearly the exact same process. I think it's pretty normal. Just plain stinks though!

Original formula Listerine contains the herb Thyme. Thyme has extremel effective antiviral and antibacterial properties. Original Listerine also contains alcohol. We All know alcohol is used to swab skin areas, prior to injections. That's typically rubbing alcohol, as opposed to grain alcohol used for drinking. Am guessing Listerine contains the former, as it is NOT safe for ingesting, and why not recommended for young children. It Is the alcohol that is the first component to cause Listerine's "bite", but thyme does, as well. The "dirtier" (more germ-filled) my mouth, the more it hurts! But for those of us who suffer from the kinds of allergies that trigger post nasal drip, and That accompanying bad breath,l've never found anything else that cuts the mucous more effectively. And, yes, after a lifetime of sore throats, and so many strep throats that my tonsils Had to come out at age 20. My kids had tons of strep but I never had a single strep infection after that - over 40 yrs ago. Don't love the discomfort, but I Do love original Listerine!

I've heard to gargle with it, but not that it would help the sore throat stop. What I do, which I don't know if most people would agree with, is a drink over half of the full 64 ounce orange juice w/ pulp the night that I have a sore throat, and I do a chicken noodle soup. I swear the next day it's gone and it's like I was never getting sick. It's quite amazing and I suggest people to try it. I have not had a cold in two plus years because I started doing that and found out that it works for me.

Use a spray of "Silver Sol" 10 ppm silver solution. Spray the throat, about every 30 minutes to begin with after 4 hours all soreness is gone. Very little taste to the solution. No sprayer just gargle and swallow perfectly safe for the body.

After nearly 3 years of no cold or sore throat ....l have one now....Strepsils and Panadol Rapid....hopefully gone tomorrow....immune system is sluggish so lm no surprised it's caught up with me....small negative after fighting thyroid cancer....vulnerable throat

Would gargling with salt water still be effective for stopping a cold coming on if in fact you no longer have your tonsils and adenoids due to removing them when younger?